Clinton to Pyongyang
August 5, 2009
Bill Clinton’s dramatic mission to secure the release of two American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee following North Korea’s harsh verdict regarding their unauthorized entry into North Korea has succeeded on multiple fronts, based on criteria for success I offered yesterday: 1) the visit secured the release of the two journalists, 2) the visit has provided a first-hand opportunity for a direct assessment of Kim Jong Il’s health and the leadership’s decision-making capacity, 3) the visit provided an opportunity to convey directly to Kim Jong Il an American view of North Korea’s situation and the unacceptability of North Korea’s continued nuclear weapons pursuits. We do not know yet whether Kim Jong Il has been able to use the opportunity to make a new start in relations with the Obama administration.
The mission itself was reminiscent of the diplomacy of Japan’s Prime Minister Koizumi, who made a one-day trip to Pyongyang in September of 2002 and succeeded in securing the release of four Japanese abductees and a direct apology from Kim Jong Il. Although Clinton’s trip was private, it has become clear that the mission was a direct result of months of painstaking negotiations and an assessment by Pyongyang of the likely maximum benefit it could obtain for the release of the journalists. The issue increasingly was becoming a burden rather than a benefit to North Korea. The Obama administration efforts to utilize an envoy of lesser stature than Mr. Clinton were rejected by the North Koreans. Read the full blog.
Scott Snyder directs The Asia Foundation’s Center for U.S.-Korea Policy. He was quoted on former President Bill Clinton’s trip to North Korea to negotiate the release of two American journalists in The Los Angeles Times, NPR, and Slate. Today, Snyder blogged on Global Security about the implications of this visit. He can be reached at [email protected].
About our blog, InAsia
InAsia is posted and distributed every other Wednesday evening, Pacific Time. If you have any questions, please send an email to [email protected].
ContactFor questions about InAsia, or for our cross-post and re-use policy, please send an email to [email protected].
The Asia Foundation
465 California St., 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
PO Box 193223
San Francisco, CA 94119-3223
HIGHLIGHTS ACROSS ASIA
Sustainable Fashion Pioneer Eileen Fisher and Sri Lanka’s Women In Need to be Honored at 2021 Lotus Leadership Awards
April 20, 2021
Fighting the Good Fight: The Case of the Philippine Rice Sector
April 14, 2021
Impact Report 2020
Leading through change